There is a wealth of information about gin. Probably nearly 1000 years old, gin changed only slightly over the centuries. In the past decade, craft gin has exploded across the world, attaining a higher profile than ever before. Britain has doubled the number of gin distilleries in just 5 years. The best known gins are probably Gordons, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Beefeater and Seagrams. Gordons sold more than 5 million bottles in 2017.
Gin is actually a neutral alcohol created from grain or fruits, re-distilled with juniper berries and other botanicals. The juniper berries give gin that distinctive flavour, while the botanicals add the different nuances of aroma and taste. There is no standard formula; the underlying ingredient of the alcohol base, the source and ratio of the juniper berries and the botanicals infused into the gin during the distillation processes give each gin it’s unique taste.
What makes Duke Gin special?
Duke Gin is produced “from farm to bottle”, entirely at Summerfields Estate, ensuring clarity and purity. Unlike many gins, which import raw alcohol, Duke Gin is made from fruit – using litchis from Summerfields’ own litchi orchards. The process includes 3 distinct distillation processes where the gin is ‘stripped’, sulphur is removed, and botanicals are infused. In fact there are 11 distillations during the process, giving Duke Gin the smooth taste that has been cherished by connoisseurs. The botanicals used in Duke Gin are mostly organic, from the extensive Summerfields organic gardens.
The origin of Gin is lost in history and, like golf, whisky (or whiskey), olives and even the bagpipes, various claims are made. Gin likely traces its origins to liquors produced back in the Middle Ages, but Gin was probably developed by Italian monks who are thought to have used juniper berries as flavourings in distilled spirits back in the 11th Century,. But it's Holland that is credited as the birthplace of gin because Gin gets its name from the Dutch word for juniper, which is genever, with references to a spirit flavoured with “genever” in a 13th Century Flemish manuscript. And it’s the British who became the world’s main consumers in the 17th century.
At one time Gin became the staple alcoholic drink of the poor in England. It was cheaper than beer and safer to drink than water. And in those days it wasn’t taxed! From lowly inns to upper class ‘gin palaces’, gin was enjoyed by all. The lower classes would drink gin to oblivion, giving it the nickname “mother’s ruin”. Over time, Gin has evolved into a mainstream thirst quencher and designer drink, with hundreds of brands. In recent years there has been an explosion of small gin distilleries, creating craft gins, many infused with ‘botanicals’ from liquorice to peppercorn.
In recent years there have been many new entrants to the gin world. There are good and bad producers and many so-called ‘craft gins’ are not really true gins. For an interesting read on what is a ‘real’ gin and what isn’t, read the article at dukegin.co.za/is-it-really-gin
Gin can be mixed with just about anything, from tonic to exotic cocktails. Some of the more sweeter tasting mixers are orange, mango, pineapple and apple juices. For a more bitter taste, cranberry or grapefruit juice adds that tang. Other popular mixers are bitter lemon, ginger beer, vermouth, lime cordial, pink lemonade, coke (especially the Dutch), soda and tomato juice.